Tuesday, 28 July 2020

I made a mistake

I'm always proud and willing to share with you all when I make something a little different, or feel something went really well. I'm happy to share with you when a customer calls me, sends me a lovely email, or a beautiful card to say "thank you". As a result of this, it's only fair that I share when I get it wrong. And this week, I have made a mistake. 

When I take an order in the shop or over the phone, I do so on an order pad (I used to write in a book/diary until the new GDPR rules came in and I was unable to do so any more in case a customer was able to see another customers details) hence why orders now go onto a pad. Each customer has their own sheet, and the sheet gets turned for the next so nobody but myself gets to see. Those orders then get put onto the computer system we run, which is encrypted and coded, and goodness knows what else (password and phone code protected to) so that only I can access them, where I can view them as I would a calendar. Each customer has their own line and then an entry where I pop their order details. I am also able to attach the photo's I take. Before adding to my calendar the delivery details are popped onto a separate system for the drivers - both they, and I, have access to the delivery list, which is handy as they will note if they've had to leave flowers elsewhere, and means if a customer calls to see if delivery has been made I am able to check whilst they are on the phone to see if there were any issues with the delivery. 

Once an order has been copied, I strike a line through the order so I know I have done it, discard any personal details and secure the order into a lock box until after delivery has been made when it then gets destroyed (it's always good to have a back-up plan in case the computer system went down).

Online orders are slightly different - although still very similar. With an online order they are run through a secure server provided by an authorised company who have their own PCI compliance (something all businesses need to be registered for if they are taking customer details) as well as running alongside ours. Again, for me to access the order I have to go through a secure server and security checks. I don't see/receive any of the customers payment details. 

I'm unable to strike a line through online orders copied to our calendar system, so I ensure I never close the page down until I have transferred all the details manually. I start with the delivery sheets first (as I've been known to not put those on for the drivers in the past and upset them (on more-than-one-occasion) when they've come in to see another dozen orders waiting for them that they knew nothing about)). I then type up a confirmation for the customer which I email over to them before copying the full order onto my calendar. 

On Tuesday of last week, an order came in for the Saturday - I had several others come in that day too, and proceeded to work my way through adding them to the correct lists/calendars.  I never thought any more of them after they were all copied over and got on with my week where I sent out over 180 orders - all successfully.  

Fast forward to Monday morning and I received a phone call from a gentleman who had placed his order online, to ask me why the flowers had not been delivered. There are no words to describe how mortified I was when I realised I had let down a customer. I'd emailed confirmation to the gentleman who placed the order, was able to pull it up on my screen to see which day the order came in, yet somehow it was not (is not) to be found on my calendar, nor is it on the drivers sheet. The oddest thing though is that when I placed my wholesale order for the flowers to come Saturday (the day the order should have been delivered) I had added all the flowers needed to make the order up. For this to be I had to have noted down what was needed when the order came in and I viewed it, then I popped the flowers required onto my pre-order list in anticipation. 

I'm human, mistakes happen, yet that is not an acceptable reason, most definitely not an excuse, and it doesn't change the fact that I made a big mistake; I let a customer, and his wife, down. 

I cannot tell you how very grateful I am that the gentleman who placed the order, when he called to tell me it had not been delivered, was so kind to me. He had every right to be angry, and rip into me for it. He never, and that says so much about his character and what a kind person he is. I apologised profusely, and between us we agreed a way to put right the wrong I had done.

It's not my first mistake; a while back I put an order on the system twice - 2 consecutive weekends running (delivering the first lot a week early) but I sure do hope it's my last for a very, very, very long time. 

All those successful deliveries, all those "thank you's" from other customers pale into significance right now, because whilst I got so many right, I got one wrong, and that is one more than I should have. 

So, there you go; it's not all moonlight and music, and I do not always get to feel proud. 

Monday, 22 June 2020

A new 'Normal'

It wasn't until I found myself at home for 6 weeks (popping to the shop only to water plants and check the building was ok) that I realised how I had been living my life on the very edge of it's limit. 

For the first week of lock down I was in total panic mode, constantly questioning everything. 

What if we can't re-open in 3 weeks (as it turned out it would be a 6 week full closure, followed by 4 weeks of working behind a locked door). 

What if our customers go elsewhere?  You would think this a crazy question when the country was put into lock down but up-and-down the country there were florists still operating (supermarkets were able to get flowers in and some wholesalers chose to ignore lock down rules so these businesses were able to buy flowers - maybe not good quality but anything would do).

What if it lasts longer? With no money coming in (we (the shop) didn't qualify for the free 10k business grant and I, personally, didn't qualify for any government assistance) how will the shop bills get paid? 

Will my wholesalers be able to survive if it goes on for too long? What happens if they don't? Where will I go, who will I use? 

How safe will it be when we can go back, if I have a business to go back to? 

How long will it last? How will we pay the rent? What if someone breaks in? There were millions of different little scenarios going around in my head - as I am sure there were for millions of people out there. Let's be honest, none of us had a clue what was going on, or happening, because the people in charge didn't have a clue. 

There were also the personal questions each of us have asked in the past 11/12 weeks. With no money being earned in the shop I wasn't earning my wages and had no idea how I was going to pay my bills. Thankfully I have a great bank who have given me a good overdraft facility, had a big birthday during lock down which saw everyone give me money as they were unable to get to a shop to buy me anything, and I was able to extend my credit card limit; of course, the bank and CC still have to be paid back.

Then, week 2 arrived and I awoke on the Tuesday morning and suddenly realised I had slept for more than 4 hours the previous night - something I haven't done since 2006. I realised I had been drinking hot cups of tea during daylight hours, and eating my breakfast and lunch in one sitting, not having to quickly swallow down a mouthful of food to answer the phone, or jumping up from my seat in the office to serve a customer who has entered the shop. 

By week 3 the tummy issues I've struggled with for years just vanished. The neck, back and knee pain that I take daily pills for didn't need me to be taking quite-so-many. I noticed how blue the sky was, and how many birds - so many - visit the trees and shrubs in my garden. The reason I've not seen these things before is because I never had the time to sit out there. I found myself out there, every morning (even the one day it rained) starting my day with a hot cup of tea whilst watching the blue tits, sparrows, robins, great tits (pigeons, starlings, crows and magpies too) hop around my garden, listening as they chatter away to each other. It is truly remarkable how an hour outside each morning can help to make even the most stressful of days a little easier to get through. For 14 years I've crawled out of bed, exhausted, fumbled my way around the shower; slurped down a cuppa whilst getting dressed, then headed out-of-the-door to work, never having the time (or inclination) to take a look around me. 

Don't get me wrong; it wasn't all moonlight, roses and wonderment. I still had money stresses, and the garden wasn't anywhere near so peaceful once all the kids in the neighbourhood had woken and were out playing football on the green, screaming at each their siblings all day, or screeching when coming up to visit their families for a few hours. 

What those things did teach me though was just how much of my life was being spent inside the 4 walls of the shop. Just because the doors were only open from 8.30 each morning, and closed at 5pm each day, doesn't mean that's all I was working. Most days I was in by 7am each morning, often not getting home until 6/7 each evening. Not always because I was busy enough to be there so long, but because I felt as though I had to be; customers expected me to be. During the night people will email and message me at the shop, and some, personally via my own facebook page - as well as the shop facebook.  It amazes me how many of these people think I am going to respond to them in the middle of the night - one woman tracked me down through my personal facebook and got angry that I didn't reply to her immediately at 2am! That was the world we were living in at-the-time. 

That world has changed though, in ways I don't think any of us could have foreseen. What was once "normal" is not any more. Some have found it easier to adapt to than others, but it is something we are all going to have to learn to live with. 

As a result, I made some decisions regarding the shop and the hours I am here. I have also blocked anyone from being able to message me on my personal social media unless they are friends, and log out of the shops social media when I am not at work. Decisions that haven't gone down well with some, have caused others to seek out another shop to give their orders too. That's fine, I can live with that. 

I was forced to make changes in the shop, changes I would never have made, yet (oddly) they have worked out to be blessings-in-disguise. These changes have given me more time to organise my days so that I don't have to be here 11/12 hours each day (yes, including Sundays more-often-than-not). These changes have given me the most amazing work/life balance to the point where I now get (on average) 6.5 hours sleep - every night. When I was first allowed back into the shop I had to work behind closed doors. The thought of that terrified me, made me feel I was shutting customers out, yet those 4 weeks showed me that the new 'normal' is (for me, business wise) far better than the old one. Last week when everyone else was reopening at the same times they always have, I changed my hours. Now, the shop is not open until 9.30 each morning, and the door is closed at 4pm each evening (this will most likely change to 9 - 5 once the schools are fully back, although I'll play it by ear) and do you know what? I've just had the busiest 5 weeks of trading; EVER. I'm open less hours but dealing with more customers and sending out more orders. It's amazing how much difference a good-night-sleep, and that hour each morning with a hot cuppa and birdsong, can make to productivity throughout the day too. I'm working harder than I have ever done before, yet doing so with less hours (although this morning I was in at 7 - and if a customer needed me to be here earlier, or hang around later for them I would do my best for them) but it's different now as the pressure is off slightly; getting here and then not opening until 9.30 gave me an extra hour to get everything done.

I am so sad, and sorry, that so many people have had to lose their lives during this pandemic (which it not over yet, nor will it be for a very long time to come, no matter how some people believe it is and have told me the measures we have in place in the shop are "stupid" and "overkill) however, I am grateful it gave me the time to take stock of things (suddenly things which once seemed important no longer are) and I like this 'new normal'. As it turns out a happy, more relaxed florist, is also an extremely busy one. 

I thank each-and-every-one of you for your continued loyalty, support and understanding. I hope that you are (and remain to be) safe and healthy. 



Order online or by telephone 01329 8459457 for next day delivery

(same day possible on occasions - dependant on stock levels).


All major credit and debit cards taken.



Website: www.farehamflorists.co.uk

Email:- shop@farehamflorists.co.uk



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Friday, 5 June 2020

Just flowers

Thought I'd share a few of the flowers I've had in today as they sit in their vases, rather than a made-up item.  ⁣

I do have the best job 😁⁣





Order online or by telephone 01329 8459457 for next day delivery

(same day possible on occasions - dependant on stock levels).


All major credit and debit cards taken.



Website: www.farehamflorists.co.uk

Email:- shop@farehamflorists.co.uk



Find us also on:-


Facebook: -  https://www.facebook.com/FarehamFlorist/

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MeWe:- https://mewe.com/group/5c7e636de250c4712ea6b123

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Friday, 29 May 2020

Peony

So much gorgeousness in one go. Simply beautiful peonies, roses and scabious seed heads. ⁣⁣
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I'd have quite liked to keep these for myself. ⁣⁣


Order online or by telephone 01329 8459457 for next day delivery

(same day possible on occasions - dependant on stock levels).


All major credit and debit cards taken.



Website: www.farehamflorists.co.uk

Email:- shop@farehamflorists.co.uk



Find us also on:-


Facebook: -  https://www.facebook.com/FarehamFlorist/

Twitter: - https://twitter.com/FarehamFlorist

Tumblr:- https://farehamflorist.tumblr.com/

MeWe:- https://mewe.com/group/5c7e636de250c4712ea6b123

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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Boston Red Sox

34 years as a florist (I know, I was really young when I started!!) and yesterday I made my first ever baseball cap. ⁣⁣⁣
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It wasn't for a Boston Red Sox fan, but what's a girl to do when she's got a red cap in front of her? ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣

Order online or by telephone 01329 8459457 for next day delivery

(same day possible on occasions - dependant on stock levels).


All major credit and debit cards taken.



Website: www.farehamflorists.co.uk

Email:- shop@farehamflorists.co.uk



Find us also on:-


Facebook: -  https://www.facebook.com/FarehamFlorist/

Twitter: - https://twitter.com/FarehamFlorist

Tumblr:- https://farehamflorist.tumblr.com/

MeWe:- https://mewe.com/group/5c7e636de250c4712ea6b123

Instagram:-https://www.instagram.com/farehamflorist/

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Anchor floral tribute

Whilst it may be more 'traditional' for an anchor to be made in blue & white, or Red, White and Blue, I love how the family who ordered this tribute combined the gentlemans love of the sea and favourite football team to make it more personal.  When it comes to flowers/colours we are limited only by our imagination.


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(same day possible on occasions - dependant on stock levels).


All major credit and debit cards taken.


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Monday, 11 May 2020

COVID-19 Update

We are now OPEN again for you to be able to come into the shop (please note we have reduced our opening hours slightly - these are adaptable though so please do not be afraid to ask if you wish to collect a bit later than we are open).

We have followed all government guidelines and directives and I have re-written our risk assessment to include Covid-19 and social distancing (if you've ever had to do one of these you'll know why I have so many more grey hairs than I did before lock down).

The shop has been completely re-arranged to create more space, and everything has been sterilised to within an inch of it's life.

Please be aware though that there are still restrictions in place. Only 2 people (if from the same family) may be in the shop at any one time; if you are not from same family and someone is already inside, please wait outside (keeping to social distancing rules) until the present customer has left. Also, please allow me time to clean down the customer area, and door handles, ready for you to enter safely.

At this time you will not be able to pick your own flowers (although you are free to tell me which ones you would like me to use in your orders). Where possible, please PRE-ORDER your flowers; I may not be able to accommodate you if you just turn up wanting something made there-and-then (although, as always, I will do my very best for you).

We have antibacterial sanitiser available to use if you wish; please read the labels if you think you may be allergic to any of the ingredients. We will not be held responsible should an allergic reaction or injury occur to you through using the bottle we have provided.

We have put measures into place to keep all of us (ourselves, as well as you) as safe as can be, however, we hope you will also have done all you can to keep yourselves (and us, in turn) safe too. We are, after all, in this together.

If you wish to place an order online you may do so 24 hours per day (although I only pick them up during our opening hours). You may also email, message or telephone your orders through (again these will only be answered during our opening hours). These are, obviously, the safest ways to place your order.

Please do not feel that because we are able to open the doors, that you are obliged to come down to the shop to place an order with us.

We cannot thank you enough for your continued custom and support throughout what has been a very difficult and trying time for us all. It's not over yet but hopefully, together, we can all come out of this safe and healthy.




Order online or by telephone 01329 8459457 for next day delivery
(same day possible on occasions - dependant on stock levels).

All major credit and debit cards taken.




Find us also on:-